From Outline to a Paper

Instructor and Students

Previously, we have talked about the importance of writing an outline and what to aim for in your outline.  After diligently considering the importance of organizing your thoughts and planning your paper, you have a lovely outline, organized by topic and with relevant research bulleted underneath your individual points. 

What now? 

Going from outline to paper can be somewhat terrifying.  Every student has faced the horror that is a blank word document.  Think of your outline as a skeleton: You have the bare bones of your writing, whether you’ve used phrases or complete sentences – use it to flesh out your argument.  If you’ve used incomplete phrases and short thoughts as the base of your outline, add to them and create complete sentences – as you type, further connections and details will occur to you.  If you already have complete sentences in your outline and are struggling to expand on them, try retyping some of them instead of copying and pasting.  The physical act of writing will spur your thoughts and provide fresh inspiration.  Connecting sentences often compose the meat of our paper: The outline delineates the individual points that you will make, but your paper is incarnated by the conclusions you draw from them. 

Your outline is a skeleton: Your introductory and concluding sentences become the tendons, connecting the muscles of your evidence and charged by the nerves of your argument.  Your thesis is the backbone; your conclusion the skin, wrapping the body of your work.